Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Solidarity, Class War, and Wal-Mart

A thoughtful debate on Slate over everyone's favorite corporate punching bag: Wal-Mart. I didn't think economists Jason Furman was making that much sense though. He seems to believe that low-wage workers are all people incapable of holding higher-skilled jobs, that they're defined by the crappy jobs they hold now, as in this comparison of Best Buy (low-pay, low-skill) and Stereo Exchange (higher skill, higher pay);

Imagine that Best Buys across the country were replaced by Stereo Exchanges. We would have more "good jobs" and fewer "bad jobs." The average wage in the electronics retail sector would go up. But where would all the former Best Buy workers go? Most of them wouldn't work at Stereo Exchange.

Barbara Ehrenreich sensibly asks him, why not?
She wants to see the working class fight for better conditions--a living wage, etc--more or less the way they did it the first time, through solidarity, in the streets. (Yes, she's a socialist. got a problem with that?) I wish.

Yeah, I'm talking "class war" as a solution to poverty and rising inequality. But remember, the working class didn't start this war and—mainly due to the weakness of the unions and the pusillanimity of the Democrats—has been fairly supine in the face of repeated attacks. I say it's time to fight back. What's your solution?

Right on!


Sheila Tone said...

So, I expect you'll be agitating for a writer's union, then? ;)

Anya said...

Actually, I belong to the Village Voice's union, which is the UAW, and I was just invited to join the Communication Workers of America--any freelance writer is welcome.
Although I wouldn't say I'm an active union member, I sure as hell appreciate the access to health care.

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